BLURRED LINES PT. 2 – NO ISN’T JUST A WORD

In the last couple of weeks I’ve re-watched two documentaries about Harvey Weinstein – ‘Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein’ on the BBC and ‘The Fall of the King of Hollywood’ on Sky. The thing I still struggle to get my head around is not the seemingly innate and frighteningly predatory nature of the man in question, but the willingness of men and women alike, to turn a blind eye in order to preserve their professional prospects. It begs two questions that need serious answers if we’re to ever make genuine progress in matters of sexual equality:

  1. Why do men even have the power to ruin women’s careers?
  2. Why are women more interested in maintaining their climb up the corporate or showbiz ladder, than in outing and bringing to justice an obviously serial pervert?

Whichever way you shape it, most of the women in the Weinstein case exercised a choice to some degree. This doesn’t refute the nature of his attacks – he was a premeditated and prolific sex pest and ought to be burnt at the stake. Nevertheless, nearly all of the victims interviewed admitted they didn’t put up a physical fight; only a handful of women outright refused his advances and made their escape – no doubt flushing their Hollywood prospects down the shitter. But they did it anyway. Take a fucking bow, ladies.

It makes you wonder how things might have been different, had all the women reacted like this and gone to the police or even the press, instead of thinking how it would affect their career prospects.

We are still raising weak girls and women.

We have so much work to do in building up the esteem of women of all generations, because it simply should not be the case that women have such little respect for themselves that they consider it a necessary evil to dole out handjobs and blowjobs on demand, simply to get where they want to be and avoid public disgrace and ‘slut shaming’.

The fact that men have had the ability to twist the situation and make the female victim look like the one with the sex problem, riles me no end. Some men will stop at nothing to preserve their reputation. Thank God that everything, as my mum always said, comes out in the wash.

I can’t help but come to the conclusion that we, as women, are enabling this bullshit. The responsible adult females in my life enabled it when I was the victim of unwanted sexual advances at a young age; in later years I enabled it several times when males in the workplace said sexually explicit and vomit inducing things to me in front of other male colleagues and I said nothing to anyone. 

Every which way you turn, women are disempowered and silenced by the fear that speaking out will see them labelled as troublemakers, homewreckers, frigid bitches or worse still – liars.

No isn’t just a word.

Which brings me to the issue of acting out of self-interest. Whether it’s in the interests of your reputation, your bank balance or your own (ironic) position of power; when you don’t fight tooth and nail to get that filthy prick off you, the line between refusal and consent becomes blurred. No is only the first line of defence, it has to be followed with something more physical. Why aren’t we bringing women up to fight? As I’ve said, a man is not without guilt when the word ‘no’ has been uttered once or several times. Rape is rape. But how will women ever be respected, when in the end, they silently, yet begrudgingly, relent?

‘I was scared to say no’ was a phrase uttered by many of Weinstein’s victims, although it was never made clear exactly what they were scared of. There was no mention of physical restraint or violence, so one can only assume the fear relates to the destruction of their careers and reputation. Not to be scoffed at, he was afterall, one of the most powerful men in cinema. But still, to me anyway – a little disappointing. I just want women to stand up to these bullying pricks, whatever the cost. I hate that women are letting them win.

The men surrounding Weinstein were no better. Many knew of his misdemeanors, exactly none of them went public about it. What a bunch of chicken livered shits. Yet again – self interest trumps the urge to do the right thing.

I hope the case of Harvey Weinstein and the whole of the #metoo movement will serve as a pep talk to women – that we don’t need to keep our mouths shut. I hope that kicking would-be rapists in the bollocks and risking your career by speaking out becomes the instinctive reaction to sexual predation, above all else. Only then will men lose their power in these situations. The collective fear and kowtowing of women to men like Weinstein is what they depend upon.

When did attractiveness come into it?

I also feel the need to pick up on something else poignant that I noticed in the documentaries and in many interview transcripts since his crimes were made public. People, actually no, just some of the women, can’t seem to resist the urge to bring his physical appearance into the equation, as if somehow, that compounds the matter. I mean – how dare an ugly fat fuck rape me? He could at least be tall, dark and handsome!

Paz de la Huerta has perhaps been the most scathing of Weinstein’s physical appearance. Did someone say pot-kettle?

Why? Because then it would be less of a trauma? Because you could understand and forgive a man’s power trip if he was a complete Adonis? Because then, you might not have needed to say no?

Think about it.

Similar rebuttals from men aimed at women are swiftly branded as misogynistic in the highest degree. “Why would I rape her? She’s fugly!” As if an ugly woman is not even deserving of sex in the form of rape. Or – “Did you see how short her skirt was? She was asking for it.” That classic assumption that our clothes communicate our desire to be forcibly penetrated by strangers.

Forget who’s the victim here (yes I know it’s always women) – I’m nonetheless confused as to why it’s fine to ridicule men based on their appearance but not women. It might seem trivial but actually it’s representative of our warped priorities again and just another of those double standards that refuses to conform to true equality.

The real concern, is that this unapologetic preoccupation that some women have with matters of aesthetic appeal serves only to make them look exactly like the superficial and vapid little creatures that serial rapists of Weinstein’s type already take them for. Pieces of meat. Shallow as puddles. Won’t even remember it next week.

It’s implicit – being vain and superficial doesn’t mean you deserve to be raped. But if you’re going to judge rapists by those same standards, then you need to sort out your fucking priorities and think about what you’re saying. Because I just don’t think we can start assessing the severity rape cases based on how sexy the assailant was. So it’s probably not worth bringing up at all. If anything, it weakens a woman’s testimony based on how it reflects on her character alone.